1. What's Russell's definition of a Christian?
2. What changed Russell's mind about the First-cause Argument?
3. If there were reasons for divine law, why does God then become superfluous?
4. What "makes you turn your attention to other things"?
5. What's the gnostic position Russell is not concerned to refute?
6. What was Christ's serious character defect?
BONUS: Who does Russell rank above Christ in wisdom and virtue?
BONUS: From what does Russell say the conception of God derives?
DQ - Please post your suggestions...
- Do you agree with Russell's definition of Christianity?
- Is it simply a lack of imagination that leads people to think the universe must have had a beginning?
- Why do some people defer implicitly to the idea of divine fiat, while others insist that any fiat endorsing a conception of rectitude they find personally repugnant would not deserve to be revered? Is this a temperamental difference we should all just accept, or should deference be disputed?
- Are you depressed,consoled, or entirely unmoved by the thought that our form of life will die out eventually?
- Do you find it more plausible to think the universe a product of blind or even malevolent forces, than to consider it the product of benevolent design? Would you feel more "at home" in such a universe, or in a universe with a lesser (non-omnipotent) God?
- Why don't religious people want to acknowledge Christ's imperfections?
- Do you question the historical existence of Christ? Is Christ's actual (as opposed to scriptural/mythic) existence relevant to your evaluation of Christianity as a faith tradition?
- Do you think Socrates and Buddha were better men than Christ?
- Is the concept of God inherently slavish, servile, and despotic? Is the idea of "submission" demeaning to self-respecting free people? Can we reject it without sacrificing a suitably-Socratic humility?
- Is fear the central impulse behind religion?
Following up on last time's discussion of the "long now" project -
The Clock and Library Projects. Civilization is revving itself into a pathologically short attention span. The trend might be coming from the acceleration of technology, the short-horizon perspective of market-driven economics, the next-election perspective of democracies, or the distractions of personal multi-tasking. All are on the increase. Some sort of balancing corrective to the short-sightedness is needed-some mechanism or myth which encourages the long view and the taking of long-term responsibility, where 'long-term' is measured at least in centuries. Long Now proposes both a mechanism and a myth. It began with an observation and idea by computer scientist Daniel Hillis :
Such a clock, if sufficiently impressive and well-engineered, would embody deep time for people. It should be charismatic to visit, interesting to think about, and famous enough to become iconic in the public discourse. Ideally, it would do for thinking about time what the photographs of Earth from space have done for thinking about the environment. Such icons reframe the way people think... The point is to explore whatever may be helpful for thinking, understanding, and acting responsibly over long periods of time. Stewart Brand
"When I was a child, people used to talk about what would happen by the year 02000. For the next thirty years they kept talking about what would happen by the year 02000, and now no one mentions a future date at all. The future has been shrinking by one year per year for my entire life. I think it is time for us to start a long-term project that gets people thinking past the mental barrier of an ever-shortening future. I would like to propose a large (think Stonehenge) mechanical clock, powered by seasonal temperature changes. It ticks once a year, bongs once a century, and the cuckoo comes out every millennium."
The Omega Glory. I was reading, in a recent issue of Discover, about the Clock of the Long Now. Have you heard of this thing? It is going to be a kind of gigantic mechanical computer, slow, simple and ingenious, marking the hour, the day, the year, the century, the millennium, and the precession of the equinoxes, with a huge orrery to keep track of the immense ticking of the six naked-eye planets on their great orbital mainspring. The Clock of the Long Now will stand sixty feet tall, cost tens of millions of dollars, and when completed its designers and supporters, among them visionary engineer Danny Hillis, a pioneer in the concept of massively parallel processing; Whole Earth mahatma Stewart Brand; and British composer Brian Eno (one of my household gods), plan to hide it in a cave in the Great Basin National Park in Nevada, a day’s hard walking from anywhere. Oh, and it’s going to run for ten thousand years. That is about as long a span as separates us from the first makers of pottery, which is among the oldest technologies we have. Ten thousand years is twice as old as the pyramid of Cheops, twice as old as that mummified body found preserved in the Swiss Alps, which is one of the oldest mummies ever discovered. The Clock of the Long Now is being designed to thrive under regular human maintenance along the whole of that long span, though during periods when no one is around to tune it, the giant clock will contrive to adjust itself. But even if the Clock of the Long Now fails to last ten thousand years, even if it breaks down after half or a quarter or a tenth that span, this mad contraption will already have long since fulfilled its purpose. Indeed the Clock may have accomplished its greatest task before it is ever finished, perhaps without ever being built at all. The point of the Clock of the Long Now is not to measure out the passage, into their unknown future, of the race of creatures that built it. The point of the Clock is to revive and restore the whole idea of the Future, to get us thinking about the Future again, to the degree if not in quite the way same way that we used to do, and to reintroduce the notion that we don’t just bequeath the future—though we do, whether we think about it or not. We also, in the very broadest sense of the first person plural pronoun, inherit it... -Michael Chabon, continues
|Lawrence M. Krauss (@LKrauss1)|
Tennessee seems to be trying to compete again in race to the bottom. foxnews.com/politics/2016/…
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Having already made a .50-caliber sniper gun the official state rifle, Tennessee lawmakers on Monday gave final approval to making the Holy Bible the state's official book.
The state Senate voted 19-8 in favor of the bill despite arguments by the state attorney general that the measure conflicts with a provision in the Tennessee Constitution stating that "no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship."
Opponents argued the Bible would be trivialized by being placed alongside other state symbols such as the official tree, flower, rock or amphibian. But both chambers of the Legislature brushed aside those concerns to send the bill to the desk of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam. He opposes the measure but hasn't said whether he'll issue a veto.
Republican Sen. Steve Southerland argued that his bill is aimed at recognizing the Bible for its historical and cultural contributions to the state, rather than as government endorsement of religion.
Democratic Sen. Jeff Yarbro questioned why the legislation highlights the economic impact of Bible publishing in the state, or that Bibles were traditionally used to track family histories.
"I don't think that's why we read the Bible, I don't think that's why we send our kids to vacation Bible school," Yarbro said. "To those of us who grew up in this faith, it is so much more."
In solidly Republican Tennessee, heavy doses of God and guns are considered reliable election-year politics.
The Bible bill came to a vote just days before the candidate filing deadline, giving lawmakers pause about being portrayed by political rivals as being as opposed to the Bible if they voted against the bill.
Earlier this session, the Legislature approved a resolution to add the .50-caliber Barrett sniper rifle the state's official symbols. The Murfreesboro-based company run by a prominent Republican supporter, Ronnie Barrett, supplies its firearms to law enforcement agencies, private citizens and more than 70 militaries around the world.
Hedy Weinberg, the executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee, called on Haslam to veto the Bible bill. She called it a "thinly veiled effort to promote one religion over other religions clearly violates both the United States and Tennessee Constitutions."
Southerland said that an outside legal organization has offered to defend any lawsuits challenging the bill for free.
"So I ask you, what do we have to lose?" he said.
Amid all the truly awful things state legislatures do, one of the rare bright spots has been the naming of official symbols. Who was ever made unhappy by the designation of a state rock?
Tennessee, alas, is screwing up the record. The governor is currently trying to decide whether to sign a piece of legislation that would put the Bible on the list of State Things, alongside the salamander (amphibian), milk (beverage), honeybee (agricultural insect), raccoon (wild animal), several variations on the theme of state tree and flower, and nine — nine! — official state songs. The last of which, adopted in 2011, was “Tennessee.”
The next question you’re probably asking is why it took nine tries for Tennessee to get a song named “Tennessee,” and the answer is that it actually has two. You have to admit that’s pretty inclusive. On the other hand, picking the Christian holy book as a state symbol seems simultaneously divisive and unnecessary. Not to mention sort of disrespectful to the Bible, which doesn’t usually get included on the same list as the salamander and the smallmouth bass... (continues)